In pursuit of #BalanceforBetter: as inspired by International Women’s Day

The International Women's Day Hashtag Balance For Better

Seeing the big picture

The words of Gloria Steinem can make us all pause for thought as we mark IWD on 8th March:

The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

It follows that we should reflect on our efforts here at Six, as a business and as individuals. We must take care not to think we’ve got it covered just because we can point to simple statistics on the composition of our agency, that suggest a broadly healthy gender balance.

We should challenge ourselves by looking at the bigger picture, with the realisation that genuine and sustained balance surely comes only when we all see the human being first, rather than looking through the prism of gender (or any other distinguishing stereotype, for that matter).

Only when every single person feels safe to be truly themselves at work, can we feel we are getting there. We may think this is already the case; but as we’ll never actually know for certain that we’ve reached that point, our efforts must never cease. It is crucial to combat the ‘unconscious bias’ as well as the ‘conscious bias’ that exists in so many areas of our society and upbringing.

Like most, I am sure we can identify those statistics that show just how far we have come and how much we have achieved. After all, we have a 58:42 split (in favour of women), 40% of our creative team are women, 67% of leadership roles are held by women… but does that tell the whole story? Encouragingly, a recent piece of research shows that 85% of men in the UK no longer see child care as the responsibility of women: an enormous shift in attitude from 40 years ago.

What about the creative/design sector itself?

Much has been written about how gender affects our industry. On face value, our industry could be deemed to be quite well balanced in pure employment terms. However, when 90% of businesses have ten or fewer staff, most are owner managed…and led by men. Not quite so balanced, then?

70% of graphic design students are women, yet only 11% are creative directors. Where have all the others gone, and what can be done to redress the balance and make sure everyone gets the same level of encouragement and support to progress their careers?

There are a number of sector specific initiatives worthy of mention, including Kerning The GapShe Says, Creative Equals, and Ladies, Wine & Design These are all important to our industry as they help women to reach leadership positions or to specialise at the top of their chosen field. They also help to create an empowered community, that shares experiences. Getting women into more senior positions in agencies is key to actually proving that we are building a culture of genuine opportunity and balance.

And what about our customers?

While this shouldn’t be the reason to pursue balance, the reality is that our industry is a service industry. Our output appears everywhere, so we can’t expect our creative solutions to work for different audiences if the teams developing them ‘behind the scenes’ aren’t made up of an equally diverse group of people!

In conclusion, what does #BalanceforBetter mean to us? It certainly is not about positive discrimination, nor is 50:50 the simplistic goal. We want to be able to ask better questions. Write better briefs. Create better work. For a better world.

 

What #BalanceForBetter means to us

John Argent

March 8, 2019

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